Saturday, November 05, 2005

Sprain-A-Shaq: But Don't Count On That Cooling Off The Heat

If this isn’t the most delicious of ironies, then I don’t know what is.

Shaquille O’Neal will miss 2-4 weeks, according to the Miami Heat website, due to a sprained ankle. But here’s the irony: he rolled the ankle when he stepped on the foot of.....Ron Artest.

I tell ya, my sides are aching, I’m laughing so much.

Seriously, the Heat are dropping like flies. The team has injury problems all over the roster. James Posey and Shannon Anderson are not 100%, and Michael Doleac hasn’t even played this season. Now the cruelest of blows: Shaq, perhaps the most dominant player in any game that doesn’t include free throws, will sit for a few weeks. And sprained ankles to a big behemoth like O’Neal are nothing to sneeze at. It could be a nagging thing that might hang around for a while. At least it happened this early in the season, if you want to look at the bright side, as a Heat booster.

But as a Heat player, now is not the time to say "woe is me" and accept the fact that your team might struggle to play .500 ball without The Big Diesel in the lineup. These are the times to show why most preseason prognosticators picked Miami to unseat the Pistons as conference champions. Teams win championships as much on heart and depth as on talent, so if the Heat are what everyone thinks they are, then they’ll step it up and rub people’s noses in their "The Heat are in trouble" talk.

If the Miami Heat manage to keep their heads above water without Shaq, it will send a message to the Eastern contenders: "That didn’t break us, folks. And look who’s coming back!" But if Miami turns into a doughnut -- nothing in the middle -- then it will only foster the contention that the Heat are an ordinary club when Shaq isn’t on the floor.

But the fact that O’Neal’s injury was due to a run-in with Artest is just too rich. Of all the people to step on, Shaq chose Artest, the Pacers’ bad boy who did the Pistons a favor by reacting like a nutcase to a lobbed cup of soda last November at the Palace. Now Artest may have helped the Pistons again -- and his own team, too, this time -- by unwittingly having his foot in the right place at the wrong time. It’s like the Joker being stumped by the Riddler.

Things aren’t usually very interesting this early into an 82-game regular season schedule. But with Shaq out, and with the return of Artest from suspension (and don’t the Heat know it), and with our own Pistons trying to impress a new coach, there just might be a reason or two to pay attention before Thanksgiving.

Anything to distract us from the Lions, right?

1 comment:

Sridhar Raman said...

Nice post. I didnt notice the Artest part when I read the match recap. :)

But seriously, don't you think that Pistons aren't getting the credit they should be getting? How much more do they need to achieve before the supposed "experts" begin to respect them?

I am a die-hard Pistons fan from India. And this lack of recognition for my team pisses me off...badly!

Anyway, great blog. Keep writing. :)